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Stranded, Unable to Retrieve Rappel Rope, Pennsylvania, Delaware Water Gap NRA, Mount Minsi


Pennsylvania, Delaware Water Gap NRA, Mount Minsi

On August 27, 1994, at 2020, park dispatch received a phone call stating that there was a stranded climber on Mount Minsi. Douglas C. Meyer and Mark C. Hoverkamp (26) were rappelling when they got to a ledge (approximately 120 feet above the ground) and unsuccessfully tried to pull the ropes down. Meyer tied the ropes off, went down the rope’s end, tied his slings together and lowered himself to a ledge. Meyer went around to the top of the cliffs and was unable to locate his ropes. Meyer then went to his car and used a cellular phone to call dispatch.

Ranger Encke arrived at Cold Air Cave at 2045 and Ranger Williams arrived at 2055. Rangers Matthews and Shreffler arrived at 2154. Rangers Matthews and Shreffler and Meyer went up to the cliffs and got a headlight, helmet, clothes and the end of a rope to Hoverkamp. Hoverkamp rappelled to a ledge and was lowered the rest of the way to the ground.

Meyer went to the top of the cliffs on the morning of August 8, 1994, and retrieved his ropes. He found the knot that joined the ropes stuck in the dirt.

(Editor’s Note: Both incidents from Delaware Water Gap ended with no injury, but at some cost to the park. Common rappel problems are well known to climbers. Perhaps there is a correlation between the amount of care one exercises in relation to the distance from the road head—or the availability of one’s cellular phone!)